In light of the U.S. Postal Service’s filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission this week and a proposed change in standards governing First-Class Mail, it’s now imperative that the USPS meets the delivery standards upon which Americans will now plan their mailings.
Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs for The Direct Marketing Association, says the USPS must shed costs and capacity in order to remain an affordable, viable communications channel.
“If a birthday card should reach my grandson in two days, it better,” he says. “Consistent meeting of delivery standards is a requirement – 95% is not good enough.”
For business mailers of all classes, USPS must now have 24/7 acceptance of mail at facilities with no long lines or difficult scheduling procedures, Cerasale says. “With the elimination of in-home delivery dates, the USPS places more pressure on itself to meet the delivery standards.”
The USPS will show First-Class mailers how to enter mail at the proper time so that they might receive overnight delivery. “The USPS must also beef up its caller service so that businesses depending upon receiving checks in the mail may receive their mail at a postal facility later in the day rather than waiting for carrier delivery the next day,” Cerasale says.
Since 2006, total mail volume has fallen by about 45 billion pieces, or almost 21%. In First-Class mail, volume has declined even more significantly. After a First-Class mail peak in 2001 at 104 billion pieces, it has since fallen by about 30 billion pieces, or 29%. The decline in single-piece First-Class Mail has been even more precipitous, falling 52% over the same time period.
“Unfortunately, the Postal Service does not expect First-Class mail volume to reverse its decline in the foreseeable future,” according to the USPS filing. “While an economic recovery could slow its rate of decline, the growing use of the Internet and other forms of electronic communication will likely ensure that the class continues to lose volume each year.”
Closing 252 of 487 mail processing facilities in the next two years will surely affect mailers, Cerasale adds. “Mailers will be impacted as soon as the plants are closed.”